Sunday afternoon produced quite the perfect storm for Boston College women’s basketball, as it took on Rider in the Hawk Classic championship game. After easily dispatching Loyola Maryland—a better team than the Broncs on paper—the game prior, many likely expected a coronation of sorts in the early-season tournament. Those people weren’t disappointed, as the Eagles built a 42-point halftime lead and didn’t let up en route to a 112-61 win, coming just a point shy of a program record for points scored in a game.
Marnelle Garraud paced BC (6-0) with 28 points, a career-high for the freshman guard. She needed just 26 minutes to hit that mark, connecting on four 3-pointers and going a perfect 8-of-8 at the charity stripe. Garraud was one of 11 Eagles that earned double-digit minutes, as head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee eventually emptied out her bench in the blowout win.
Plagued by fouls in the first quarter, the Broncs (2-3) succumbed to frustration early, struggling to find anything on offense by the start of the second half. Even as BC found the freedom to go deep into its bench, the Eagles’ uncanny ability to hit on nearly every shot—they finished shooting at a 58-percent clip from the field—resulted in the biggest blowout of the season thus far.
Two early fouls by Rider’s Aubre Johnson and Daija Moses set the tone, eventually landing Taylor Soule at the charity stripe to score the first point of the game two minutes in. The Broncs’ biggest threat, Stella Johnson, responded with an easy two points after scampering for the rebound from Garraud’s wide 3-pointer, hoisting the Broncs to a one-point lead that would be their only one of the game. BC quickly picked up the pace after trading buckets early in the first quarter, extending the lead to 13-8 behind five points from Makayla Dickens, who chipped in 19 off the bench. The advantage only increased from there, as by the middle of the second, the Eagles had more than doubled up on the Broncs, leading, 47-17.
Rider’s 13th foul of the game came in the second quarter, where a technical against a visibly frustrated Johnson sent her to the bench for the remainder of the half, crippling an already struggling Broncs offense. After a strained interaction with her coach on the bench, fresh faces from both teams took the court, and BC continued to dominate on both ends of the floor.
The Eagles pushed their halftime total to 61, a program record, while limiting Rider to just four points in the second quarter. The Broncs, after falling behind quickly, had resorted to chucking up shots from beyond the arc to no avail—they were 0-of-12 from 3-point range after the first 20 minutes. BC, meanwhile, was 8-of-15 on 3-point attempts in the half, one more make than the entirety of Saturday’s win over Loyola.
Coming out of intermission, the Eagles felt slight pressure from the Rider defense for the first time, as the Broncs were eager to slow down their opponents. Forcing a turnover at the outset of the half, Johnson made her return known as she sliced her way into the lane on the other end for a layup. Rider’s Amanda Mobley followed with a 3-pointer, and soon the Broncs were narrowly outscoring the Eagles, 13-8, as the quarter began to wind down. It was a prideful effort out of the break from Rider, but BC answered with a 9-5 run to close the frame and maintain a 43-point advantage.
The fourth quarter embodied the theme of the entire game, with Rider unable to find any stops on the defensive ends. The Broncs shot a much improved 50 percent from the field in the final 10 minutes, even connecting on one of their two 3-pointers in the game for a 25-point quarter, but the Eagles—playing largely with their bench—answered with 33 points, the most scored in any quarter. Freshmen Kate Klimkiewicz and Clara Ford stood out in limited action, with the former scoring seven points and grabbing six rebounds while the latter was a point shy of a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Garraud was named the tournament MVP, totaling 38 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists across two games. Juniors Emma Guy and Taylor Ortlepp were also named to the Hawk Classic All-Tournament Team for their outstanding performances.
The last time the Eagles won a holiday tournament was in the 2010-2011 season, a year that also featured a berth in the WNIT. While an easy victory is a great way to garner confidence and tally another mark in the win column, Bernabei-McNamee’s team has to be ready for the inevitable pitfalls down the road, especially once conference play begins With a freshman-heavy roster, the Eagles must keep their current winning streak in perspective and refrain from getting too comfortable.
Bernabei-McNamee seems far from the type of coach that would allow complacency to set in, and it’s clear that the team is playing at a much higher level than recent years. Still, the ACC is arguably the best women’s conference in the country, so BC must also drill its defensive strategy and prepare for lower-scoring games, while preserving the fast tempo and momentum that has afforded it success thus far.
Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Editor